What I want you to know about the time I was sick and nobody understood me

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post was submitted by Brooke Whistance.
Photo by: Nomao Saeki 

I met a friend’s colleague at her wedding and my friend had told me about her prior to our meeting. My friend’s brief on her was something inspirational for me and I wanted to talk to Mrs. Greene. I was thrilled with the idea when she allowed me to have an insight into her life and have let me write her story to educate the public. I have changed the names of the people so that their privacy is protected, however, the rest of the story remains intact.

There is a point in everyone’s life when all you want to do is just lie down in bed for a long rest and think of no one else but the pain that you are going through. Some days are good and some are bad. For me, that was the time when I was going through a rocky patch in my marriage and I had no one to talk to about how I was feeling. I had two kids, Paul, aged 7, and Amelia, aged 10, which meant that they were old enough to take care of themselves, or one would imagine.

My husband and I were both working full-time jobs. He was a brand manager at a local advertising company while I was a manager at a small restaurant. There were times when I would come home really late from work and then there were moments when he would show up at home later than 1:00 am when a campaign was starting up. We barely had time to talk let alone be intimate with each other. I could barely look after my children as well and trying to make everything right, I instead compromised on my health.

I became depressed, [underweight] and then got malnourished with my body lacking Vitamin A and C along with other minerals important to keep me healthy. Not only was my life really hard, but I was constantly being hammered by people close to me with their own opinions. Most would tell me to quit my job and concentrate on my kids. They never actually understood my perspective. I never listened to these advices, since my job wasn’t the one giving me these problems, my personal life was.

There were multiple occasions that I really wanted to quit one thing or the other, it was either my tumultuous marriage or the work, that I actually loved being at. It would let me be away from all the problems that were surrounding me and there I felt empowered, where I was doing something that was fruitful. I was good at my job and everyone always appreciated me, and barely anything could go wrong under watch. Yet somehow my family had the audacity to question my work life, instead of helping us with something substantial by assisting us in taking care of our kids or council us to make our marriage work.

Until the few months that it went on, I had never let my kids see me cry or break down out of exhaustion, but I was broken on the inside. There was a point until my body could take what it was going through, which is why I collapsed at work one day. This was a wake-up call for me and meant that I needed to use some of my work leave. All this time my husband had barely paid attention to my health, but that fainting incident made him realize what he was doing.

He made a nice gesture towards me and took a few days off from his work. It could not have been a better time for him to do so, as I was unwell and my son Paul was [down with a cold] as well. My husband made breakfast, lunch, and dinner for us while doing all other household chores. I was not supposed to even lift a finger to do any work according to him, while he took care of me and my family. I cherished every moment of it. After over a week, I had gotten slightly better and insisted that my husband would go back to his work, while I stayed and took care of my house and kids. Paul had gotten better within three days, so he was going to school along with his sister.

Despite me getting better and my life taking a turn for the better, there was still one thing that was bothering me, and that was my family’s opinions of my job. They were still adamant that I must take a permanent leave from work and shift to a whole routine of a stay at home mother. I had to argue my way out of those opinions, especially when they barely cared when I was unwell, and none of them offered to help me take care of my family or visited me more than once to see how I was doing. After after nearly 2 and half weeks of rest, I got back to my old work routine. But this time I made sure that I never stay too long and I could make time to spend with my family. My husband supported me and also made sure that he would reach home at an appropriate time, just enough for us to spend together and have proper rest.

I have become accustomed to that routine and so has my husband, and what’s more is that the people who were telling me that my job is a hindrance, are now using me as their idol for a lady who works and still manages her personal life so well. All I ask is the people who continue to [poke their noses] in other people’s businesses, and think they are benefiting others through it, must also be aware that the listener may not always be comfortable with their opinion. So they must be prepared to have their idea rejected and instead of making the listener do what the advisor is telling them, they should leave the decision on the people facing that problem.



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